How to get a graduate job at one of the Big Four in Australia

The KPMG offices at Barangaroo in Sydney. Image: Supplied
  • Hot tips from Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG on how to get a graduate job.
  • Which degrees work the best?
  • The firms are looking for innovative thinkers, data analytics ability, creative thinking, analytical skills.

The Big Four professional service firms in Australia — Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG — will later this year start recruiting for almost 3000 graduate positions.

The competition is high for an entry point into these firms, where long and lucrative careers can be built, but there are ways to give yourself a better chance at a position.

The old days of an accountancy degree are gone, or almost. They still work but there are other ways in.

A degree from almost any discipline is acceptable, and sometimes preferred. Many are looking for science, maths and technology backgrounds. An ability with data analytics would give a candidate an edge at the moment.

Ask yourself this: What skills or experience or outlook do you offer which would make an impact to the firm you are applying to?

None of the Big Four would reveal starting salaries but, according to various online forums, expect $50,000 or a bit more.

Here’s how the Big Four graduate hiring plans look:

Image: Business Insider

We asked the Big Four to tell us about the graduate programs and give tips on the best way to apply:

KPMG

Plans to recruit 550 graduates into the 2019 program plus 400 vacationers into the 2018-19 scheme.

KPMG is looking for graduates who are passionate and curious, individuals who are seeking a challenging and rewarding career.

“We don’t rely purely on academic results and degree discipline. Of course, results are important, but this is really just one piece of the puzzle,” says Deborah Yates, National Managing Partner for People, Performance & Culture at KPMG.

“A candidate’s application needs to show them as a well-rounded individual with a real desire to make an difference.”

KPMG is also interested in graduates who can offer specific skills which, combined with consulting expertise, could benefit KPMG clients and the community.

“An understanding of robotics or user design interfaces can be helpful,” says Yates.

Problem solving and strategic thinking skills are always vital.

“We also look for innovative thinkers that aren’t afraid to challenge things,” says Yates.

“As we look to the future of work, we are also finding that strong data analytics ability is becoming more and more important, and this is across all our divisions.”

In KPMG’s growing Advisory practise, it is looking for candidates with a STEM background (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths), AI (artificial intelligence) technology, robotics, and cyber security.

“We are looking for graduates from all degree types, in addition to the ones you would expect like Business, Accounting, Finance and Law disciplines,” she says.

Her tips:

A graduate who has well researched the role of their choice and can clearly identify and demonstrate the skills they offer will make the most impact to the business. Candidates who can articulate their motivations for applying will have the best chance of acquiring a job.

“KPMG is a progressive organisation with exceptional career development prospects and industry-leading personal and professional learning programs,” she says.

“Graduates can enjoy working at a truly global organisation with opportunities to travel, relocate and work with some of Australia’s most successful and innovative companies and public sector entities.”

KPMG offers an in-house learning and industry accreditation programs.

“We understand that every graduate is on their own unique journey and are looking for the robust development that comes with structure and flexibility that allows them to create their own career,” she says.

“That’s why our programs are designed to allow graduates to explore their strengths and abilities further. We offer ongoing training from day 1, a structured development program and a dedicated mentor. KPMG’s graduate programs offer a career pathway that allows them to develop as fast as your ability allows.”

EY

In the 2019 financial year EY expects to hire more than 600 graduates in Australia and New Zealand.

“We hire a diverse selection of graduates with varying experiences and degree backgrounds,” says Melinda Woodlock, Campus Recruitment Lead, EY.

“Our future graduates will need to embrace change, have an innovation mindset and strong analytical skill. Furthermore, they will need the skills to work in the highest performing team and collaborate globally.”

EY hires from all degree backgrounds and recent graduates have completed degrees in information technology, data science, engineering, accounting, law, economics and arts.

Her tips:

Graduates should take the opportunity to connect with employers at relevant networking evenings and information sessions as soon as they commence their university studies. Building connections with employers is the most valuable way to secure a graduate job. Work integrated learning programs or internships also present students with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their skills, gain valuable professional experience, and help to secure a graduate position.

“Students can differentiate themselves through a variety of ways including additional studies but we also value work experience and other extra-curricular activities that build valuable skills and experiences,” says Woodlock.

She says EY has a supportive, inclusive and flexible working culture with a common purpose, to Build a Better Working World.

There’s a focus on continual learning and professional development to help graduates build the skills and mindsets needed to succeed.

“Our graduates are supported with structured learning, coaching and experiences to develop the skills they need for the future,” she says.

“Graduate learning encompasses both technical training and sessions on topics such as design thinking, building resilience, business writing and time management.

“Our graduates are also provided with access to a suite of online learning to support professional and personal growth covering vast subjects ranging from IT and marketing to leadership and personal well-being.

“Graduates can also sign-up to complete an EY Badge which allows our people to earn digital credentials in skills that differentiate them in the market, such as data visualisation, AI, data transformation and information strategy.”

PwC

PwC hires about 1000 graduates and interns each year

“We look for people who can think creatively to solve problems, are agile and great relationship builders,” says Dorothy Hisgrove, Chief Human Resources Officer at PwC Australia.

“We also have a global competency framework, the PwC Professional, which we use to help assess leadership capabilities, business & global acumen, and relationship skills.”

PwC is open to applications from all academic backgrounds and life experiences.

“We believe creating diverse teams, with unique points of view is how we’re best placed to deliver creative solutions to our clients,” says Hisgrove.

“The work here is so diverse, that people from all degree backgrounds will find a place.

“We also have leading training that all our grads can access, which will equip them with the technical aspects required for their particular area of work.”

High growth areas within PwC include automation, robotics, AI, digital transformation and digital trust.

“Our graduate program differs across the various service lines at PwC,” she says.

“It’s a permanent, ongoing placement, that officially ends with promotion to the next level. This is generally by 2-3 years experience.”

Hisgrove’s tips:

Be open, authentic, demonstrate a desire to learn, and show that they’re passionate about solving diverse problems. We also recommend attending our events and info sessions, as this helps students learn about the diverse teams and work we do, and helps them gain confidence networking and building relationships with people in the firm.

PwC doesn’t ask for CVs, or review academic transcripts, and are open to all degrees — or even no degree in some instances.

“This is because we believe it contributes to a fairer and more equitable hiring process, in which we can assess a person’s potential to learn, rather than make a decision based on the opportunities life has already afforded them,” she says.

Why should a graduate apply with you?

Hisgrove says PwC, as one of Australia’s leading professional services firms, has the opportunity to create meaningful societal change.

“From growing trust in food production to building hope in artificial intelligence, our people create trust in society and solve important problems each day,” she says.

“Students have the opportunity to contribute to a bigger picture.”

Picture: Getty Images

Deloitte

Deloitte recruits about 800 graduates.

“We’re interested in students with degrees in everything from Business, Commerce, and Law — right through to Engineering, Science, Maths, Technology and even Design,” says Tanyth Lloyd, Deloitte Director of Talent Acquisition.

“We are particularly interested if you’ve got diverse experiences and backgrounds and are passionate about being part of a business which thrives on innovation, opportunity, collaboration and inclusion.

“When it comes to skills and attitude, we’re after students who demonstrate passion for digital, data and analytics and advisory, a willingness to learn, exceptional critical thinking and problem-solving skills, service orientation and the ability to thrive in teams.”

Lloyd’s tips:

Know our open and close dates, complete thorough research into Deloitte and the business area of interest before applying, during university build relationships by attending business networking events, undertake volunteer work, extra-curricular and/or work experience and, most importantly, demonstrate passion and motivation for the area you are applying to! Appling to be part of our Vacationer Program or attending our Deloitte Insider Program (earlier on in their degree) significantly increases a student’s chances of securing a graduate role with us.

Deloitte, with a high volume of applications, looks for students who stand out.

“Think about what makes you unique from all other applicants?” she says. “While a component of this may be additional study, in the majority of our business units it is not a requirement.”

Diverse people and diverse roles.

“We’re not your traditional accounting firm — we’ve moved far beyond our auditing and accounting roots, and we employ an incredibly diverse range of Australia’s top professionals, over 60% of whom are Millennials,” says Lloyd.

“We focus on everything from cyber security and virtual reality through to digital marketing and tech integration.

“If you’re ready for a career with an award-winning, dynamic organisation in an environment that fosters professional development and career advancement, then you’re ready for Deloitte.

“Some of our most high-profile projects in the past year include valuing the Great Barrier Reef and creating the award-winning virtual reality experience, ANZ BreakPoint.”

Once inside, the benefits flow.

“Joining our Graduate Program provides you with a permanent position at Deloitte Australia with access to our cutting-edge graduate development program, D|Academy, and first-hand access to clients and projects where you can make a direct impact,” says Lloyd.

The academy is a series of blended learning programs designed for graduates. Following a one-day induction, events are held in June and October each year.

The 12 month D|Academy curriculum supports career success through unlimited senior mentoring, peer support and complementary digital learning solutions.

“Depending on your business unit, we offer the chance to develop further through professional study such as the Chartered Accountants Program and Masters of Tax,” she says.

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